For the second time in a week, a between-TV-shows Stephen Colbert had made internet waves by doing a high-profile impression of another public figure. But unlike his textbook takedown of Donald Trump (and 99% of the other people he’s lampooned through imitation over the years), Colbert’s musical tribute to country star Toby Keith seems entirely sincere. Clad in denim and a black cowboy hat, Colbert appeared at the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony Thursday night to honor Keith with a rendition of the singer’s “As Good As I Once Was.”
Colbert addressed the obvious question immediately, saying, “It’s entirely possible there are people asking, ‘Why the hell is Stephen Colbert honoring Toby Keith?’ Well, I don’t know why I was asked to be here tonight, but I will tell you why I showed up: because Toby has always showed up for me.” (Keith appeared four times on the now-concluded Colbert Report, with his first performance all the way back in 2006.) He went on to add, “I didn’t know what to make of the ‘Boot in Your A–’ guy”—referring to Keith’s controversially patriotic hit, “Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue”—“But something down deep told me: Just relax, listen to what this man is gonna say and sing, and I just might have a good time.”
Sadly, all the available clips of the performance only show Colbert covering the song’s bar-brawl-based second verse, so anyone hankering to hear the comedian sing about how he could really “lay it down” with a pair of cowboy-loving twins will have to continue to live in want.